Below is a collection of all former Marion Area Chamber President Pamela S. Hall’s writings in our monthly “Progressing Together” Chamber newsletter chronicling her thoughts during her 4 year battle with Stage 4 colon cancer.
Pam was President of the Marion Area Chamber for over 21 years and left vast legacy of community advocacy. “She devoted her life to furthering the Chamber’s mission, to provide leadership for improving the economic prosperity and quality of life of the Marion area. Pam’s tireless passion for the betterment of Marion allowed her in conjunction with the Chamber, city officials and business leaders, to move the community into many new directions. On behalf of the Marion area businesses, she never stopped advocating for more efficient government for over two decades. Her passion and conviction led to a few major efficiency accomplishments. In 2008, the Chamber led a successful ballot initiative to combine the two health departments. And in 2015, the Chamber celebrated with our residents that the City and County created a combined 911 dispatch center. Pam and the Chamber also were instrumental in bringing the Marion County Land Bank to life, which led to the demolishing of countless blighted properties. In 2018, the Chamber created an award in Pam’s honor, the Pam Hall Betterment of Marion Award, which will be given annually to honor a person who has had major influence on the prosperity of the Marion community.”
Pam passed away on Sunday, August 18, 2019. More information on Pam can be found here. On her obituary Pam had this final request: “make memories every single day, allow God to guide your every move, be a servant within your community, do unto others, remember that your body is God’s temple….there is absolutely no excuse to avoid having a colon screening.”
Chamber friends: feeling lethargic with shortness of breath, I learned I was severely anemic. Over the next twelve days there were two blood transfusions, tests, jello and ice chips, surgery to remove one third of my colon and the diagnosis of Stage 3 cancer. Chemo will begin after my body heals from surgery. I will not be as visible for the next few months as I typically am but know that Doris and Matt are keeping our Chamber machine running at full speed. Working electronically has kept my mind occupied so don't hesitate to contact me with anything you need. If I may be so bold, I would like to share with you in the months ahead some things I am learning, or being reminded of. My first thought to share is there is absolutely NO reason that is good enough, NO schedule that is too busy, NO fear that is too great not to get the medical tests that you know you should have. Be well, my Chamber friends.
Feeling Scared...Believing in a Miracle:
Chamber Friends: since I wrote last month, my journey has become more challenging. Final pathology reports indicated Stage 4, not Stage 3 as originally hoped. The cancer is very aggressive and has spread to several other locations. I'm choosing to think of this as the mountain has just gotten a bit higher...but still can be climbed. As comrades, in the world of business, you all climb mountains every day to keep your businesses vital, your employees receiving pay checks and your customers satisfied. I so admire your business acumen and perseverance in good economic times and bad. From you I have learned not to give up and so I shall apply all that I've observed and learned from you in the days ahead. "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Faith As a Grain of Mustard Seed
Sharing that my dear friend, and celebrity author of The Woodland Elves, Shary Williamson, brought me a mustard seed charm shortly after I became ill. (May I divert to share thanks to all of you for your thoughtful "touches" sent during the past weeks; they mean more than you will ever know!)
Now back to the mustard seed. It is so incredibly teeny tiny!! It has caused me to reflect upon many things in our community's life in which faith has played a role. Like all those who had faith that someday a road would be built along our beautiful OSUM and Marion Technical College campus and today it is a reality. Or like a couple recent Chamber initiatives, the merging of our Health Departments and the combining of 911 dispatch, both of which have come to fruition. These Chamber efforts took a lot of hard work and countless hours to accomplish. But perhaps as important was the faith in these projects. Faith to create a better, more efficient and less costly solution to the way things had been done for decades was worth fighting for.
Every day when you rise to meet the goals you've set for your professional and personal life, you have faith those goals can be accomplished. Because of that faith, your business flourishes.
And so I'm working on my faith as a long healing journey lies before me because Matthew 19:26 tells us "With God all things are possible". Hope I will be able to see many of you at our March Annual Meeting or our April Annual Auction.
I miss you all so very much!
I Wish You Could Feel
Have you ever wished that someone could FEEL your joy, your pain, your excitement, your depth of love, your anxiety, your wisdom, your optimism, your fear??
Plug in whatever noun/emotion...…the point is......have you ever felt or said to someone that you just wish THEY could FEEL what YOU FEEL? Have you ever wished you could let someone into your brain for an hour so THEY could THINK like YOU THINK?
This journey I’m traveling has so heightened the awareness of absolutely everything in life. I find myself wishing I could somehow, someway, allow others to FEEL the depth of love and gratitude I am feeling. Everything is different, accentuated, magnified. Life is good even amidst the pain our world is experiencing……even amidst the challenges our businesses face…….even amidst the struggles our families may encounter.
Do I feel this depth of love and gratitude because of the cancer experience? Or might it possibly be that even a control freak like me can learn that our burdens should not be carried on our shoulders, even shoulders as broad as most of us think we have?
“Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns) once and for all on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)
What Might be Overrated in Your Life?
I enjoyed a visit recently from Brad Ridge, Principal with Holbrook & Manter, CPA’s. Brad and I have worked together for well over 30 years and have developed a personal and professional friendship. Brad’s prayers and support have meant a great deal to me during this journey, but nothing has impacted me quite like what Brad said at the end of our visit.
First, let’s accept that we all have varying degrees of vanity within our hearts and lives.
Second, what if when we looked in a mirror we saw our inner character as opposed to our face or body structure?
So back to what Brad said…as he bent to give me a hug, I apologized for the “way” I looked…..ie no make-up and hair somewhat disheveled. Brad said: “I think make-up and hair are overrated.”
Those words gave me a release from vanity that I can’t even begin to explain! Could I possibly have lived 63 years and not realized that make-up and “perfect” hair was overrated? Could I possibly have placed emphasis on many things that are external to my true inner self, not placing priorities in their proper place? Could what I see in the mirror, not REALLY be what matters in life?
My list of things in life that are overrated has been started…perhaps you might want to consider making a list also?
”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
Perspective…Mine, Yours, Ours, Theirs
So, I don’t make my bed…never have; probably never will. Seems to me to be a time waster, but also seems good to have the bed air out while not in use. While confessing…I also put my ironing board up in the bedroom and it stays up all the time often with clothes piled on it and actually the top of my dresser leaves quite a bit to be desired with respect to neatness.
So what does this have to do with things I’ve learned on my cancer journey? Well I recently realized how important our perspective on life is. Unbeknownst to me, Chuck had arranged for a service person to come work on the TV…the TV in the bedroom…my private place… where I thought it was safe to be messy and no one would ever know!
Before cancer, I would have been devastated and upset for days that someone had seen such a mess…BUT…now with cancer things have been put so very much into perspective.
I was shocked at my change in perspective. It just happened naturally. So my hope for you is that you can think about the value of putting “things” into perspective and that you can experience the peace that comes with putting your life into perspective. Please try it as it is amazing.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I Went To The Cemetery
Recently I read “As long as you have breath in your lungs, you have a purpose for living. You have a reason to exist”.
As you might imagine while being on this cancer journey, I’ve thought quite a bit about what my purpose going forward is. What would God have me accomplish? Where should I place my priorities? What is MY reason to exist? In other writings, I’ve suggested to you that life is just inexplicably different now that I am faced with this incurable disease. So why didn’t I wake up every day before cancer and ask God what he would have me accomplish on that day? Why was the “business” of life so compelling that I lived most days on a treadmill, working 9 or 10 hours, accomplishing things that I felt were to be accomplished?
But were they…… are they……. the things I should have accomplished ?
I visited the cemetery recently where my family is buried. I’ve not been a good caretaker at the cemetery….truly haven’t visited there for several years. I’ve always had the attitude that nothing exists there, so why go. But this time, my reality was different…..not with respect to going there, but rather fully grasping that we will all pass at some point. As I read the dates of many lives from the 1800’s to current times, I realized this life journey will end for all of us. That sounds silly as I type it, because it is so obvious but how often do we think of us just being a speck in time?
So, I encourage each of us to use your speck in time for a purpose…..a reason to exist. And do so EVERY day.
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
Google Has an Answer for Most Everything!
I’m so stuck this month on what to write about!
When those of you who have been so kind as to express appreciation for my articles, I try to give the credit to God as I feel he is guiding not only my cancer journey, but my life as a whole. So what does one do when the words aren’t coming forth and Doris is reminding me the newsletter is due to the printer’s today? Google, of course!
Here’s what I found when Googling “What to do when you don’t know what to write about”. First: Lots of ads for seminars, books, educational sessions, etc. (I wasn’t inclined to spend any money and Doris is breathing down my neck so no time for reading all their marketing materials). Second: Alcohol has a negative effect on writing ability. (I’ll take the author’s word for it as I’m on the clock at work plus alcohol doesn’t mix with my chemo so I’ve been on dry dock for several months). Third: Write about what you’ve been talking about. (Best advice yet however, you all would be soooo tired of hearing details about my son’s wedding which was this past weekend; however, if you would like to be my best friend FOREVER stop in and I would love to show you some wedding pictures).
So what’s the point? God provides us the words even when we don’t think we have them; Google has a solution for everything; not all my articles will be quite as memorable as the one about me not making my bed!
Psalm 25:4 “Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow.”
Choices...Oh, So Many
This month, I’d like you to ponder life’s “choices” with me. As human beings we have just an incredible number of choices to make every day. For this writing, I’m not talking about the BIG life changing choices we make (like relocating, taking a new job, buying a new car); rather I’m thinking about the daily choices we have the opportunity and privilege to make.
As the day dawns, our alarm goes off; we can choose whether or not to hit the snooze button. We can choose the strawberry infused shampoo in the shower or the rather bland Head & Shoulders bottle. We can choose cereal, toast, eggs…or perhaps all three. We can choose the color and style of our outfit for the day and the route we take to work. We can chose how hard we really work once we get there, perhaps based on whether there are deadlines to meet or whether your boss happens to be in that day! We can choose what and where to have lunch…whether to run errands on the way home (or to procrastinate and do them tomorrow)…whether to cook for supper (or to grab carry-out)…whether to watch the evening news on Channel 6 or 10.
These are just a small sampling of our daily life’s choices…all seem rather benign, even non-eventful. BUT how often during our day do we have the choice to exhibit God’s love? How often do we have a choice whether to react in an arrogant manner when dealing with fellow employees, our neighbors, friends, family? When might we be pretty dang proud of ourselves and just can’t resist boasting about our incredible value to this universe? Boasting is a choice. What is our choice when a friend gets a new set of golf clubs…perhaps envy? Reality is that envy, irritability, anger and anxiety are often our choice.
As we ponder life’s daily choices, please join me in an effort to choose that our hearts are filled with love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7; If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. LOVE IS PATIENT AND KIND; LOVE DOES NOT ENVY OR BOAST; IT IS NOT ARROGANT OR RUDE. IT DOES NOT INSIST ON ITS OWN WAY; IT IS NOT IRRITABLE OR RESENTFUL; IT DOES NOT REJOICE AT WRONGDOING, BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS, HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS.
It’s Incurable…….Oh Yeah ???
So I had a scan since I last wrote to all of you. You…whom I consider my comrades on this journey and my angels on earth. The scan was determined to be clear. To be honest, even after an appointment with my oncologist and two subsequent phone calls with the oncologist’s nurse, I’m not 100% certain what that means but I know that is it GOOD! Still chemo every two weeks for the rest of my life (which I admit I am having difficulty wrapping my head around), but if that means clear scans going forward and if it means I get to stay with you all for a while, then I’m all in. I am somewhat offended whenever the statement is made that my cancer is incurable…I so want to say…Oh Yeah ???
Sharing this good news reminds me to be thankful. Thankful for the prayers, love, cards, texts, care packages, phone calls, emails and hugs offered by so many. Thankful for my husband and son who have been incredible caretakers; thankful for Doris and Matt who have done a yeoman’s job of keeping the Chamber on course. I don’t know how to stop expressing my thanks! It is so easy to be thankful, yet often it’s just not what we do. Why is that?
Let’s all take just 3 minutes of quality time with ourselves and make a list of all that we are thankful for…and let’s keep that list on our phones, in our desk drawer, or in our journals so we can refer to it occasionally.
Colossians 3:15-17; And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Eat Dessert First
As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches and Aunt Emma’s pumpkin pie or Grandma’s warm apple crisp (with real whip cream) is awaiting... I’d like to suggest you consider eating your dessert FIRST. Yes, first, before the turkey and dressing, before the veggies and fruit...the very first thing you should enjoy is dessert!
Sharing that I’ve been doing this fairly often lately and it really is too much fun! I’ve been using the logic that on my cancer journey, I need to find new and innovative ways to change things up a bit and be thankful for every little thing. But my advice/suggestion to you is, don’t wait for a challenge in your life to consider eating dessert first. When your tummy isn’t full and you have a few hunger pangs, you can’t even believe how wonderful it is to devour dessert...first.
Please join me in being thankful for the hands that prepare the desserts this Thanksgiving season, for the family and friends with whom you can enjoy those desserts and for the desserts of life which have been given to all of us to enjoy.
Ephesians 5:20; Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We had to put our best cat ever, Trinity, to sleep this week.
Trinity was a beautiful calico. Bet you think that because she was a fur ball of three colors…pure white, rich caramel and bold black, that is how she became known as Trinity. Nope, her naming process was much more complex than that. You see Trevor was 17 when we rescued Trinity so he was involved in our naming process. Trevor suggested the name Trinity; we all liked its originality and thus she was so named. Believe it or not, initially, I didn’t even think about the fact that she was three colors and that could be why Trevor suggested the name; rather, I immediately assumed he thought of that name as representing the triune….ie Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I admit to being just a bit puffed up by his spirituality in suggesting the name and of course, I shared with friends and family for a couple of weeks how cool it was that my teenager chose such a spiritually connected name.
Then one day, Trevor heard me telling the story after which he gave me one of those rolling eyes looks and explained what made him think of the name. Have you ever seen the movie The Matrix? The lead female heroine, who was oft rather scantily clad, was named Trinity. Far cry from my spiritual assumption!
I share this story for multiple reasons. One being it was therapeutic for me as I’m saddened by our big house feeling so empty because just one little 12 inch being is not there. Thanks for listening. Secondly, the history of Trinity’s naming rights reminds me how often we assume things which are far from the truth/reality. I guess it is just human nature to do so, but we all know it can be a very dangerous thing to do in both our professional and personal lives. And lastly, I’m overwhelmed with questions brought on with her passing. Questions such as “Do pets go to Heaven?” “Was there a connection with me, and my physical condition, that Trinity developed bowel cancer? What would be the odds of that happening?” “Why did she and I have such a connection?” I’ve had lots of pets over the years and I admit have been rather unaffected with their passing but not so with Trinity. “What I am to learn from the gift of her in my life?”
Just pondering……all questions that will someday be answered.
Romans 8:19; “The lesser creatures await Christ’s return to redeem the sons of God so they, too, will be released from physical death to eternal life.”
Have you chosen????
To be saved.
I fully recognize this is not a politically correct question……so……if you feel you might be offended….PLEASE ….STOP reading now and move on to the remainder of the newsletter. I truly don’t want to upset any of my personal and professional friends. You don’t HAVE to read another word.
My cancer journey has just completed 12 months. As you might imagine, when faced with a Stage 4 diagnosis, one tends to think a lot about what the future might hold. My oncologist preaches to me with regularity “one day at a time”. I’ve embraced this philosophy, well most of the time, and it has given me pause to think about salvation and what role I should/would/could play in helping others CHOOSE to be saved. If I have remaining one day, one month, one year or 20 years (which is what I am shooting for!) what might I do to help others realize how incredibly important and easy it is to CHOOSE to be saved?
I’ve been thinking about sharing these thoughts with you for a couple of months; inspiration to finally do so came from Pastor Dave Holdren, Dayspring Wesleyan Church, who spoke on this subject last Sunday. Pastor Dave reminded us that we are saved from our sins, our situations and ourselves……well, that all sounds good. He also shared that the term, salvation, means being rescued, redeemed and restored……again, that all sounds pretty darn good.
AND the real kicker is to “CHOOSE” to be saved is as simple as confessing your sins, believing that Jesus is Lord and that he was, in fact, raised from the dead. Now, how simple is that??
So if I may be so bold as to suggest that if you haven’t already chosen……consider doing so……it is REALLY important as none of us know whether we have one day, one week, one year ……and eternity is a very long time.
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
How Much Water Is In Your Glass?
Is your glass half full or half empty?
Is it sometimes half full, sometimes half empty, sometimes REALLY empty, sometimes overflowing?
As I’m on this journey, I really want to be the optimistic soul who chooses not to indulge in negativity so I’ve been wondering what external factors cause my glass to be drained more often than I would prefer. In doing so, I’ve been pondering: why are weather forecasts many times portrayed in negative terms.
Why is it projected we will have 40% chance of rain, snow, sleet, etc...why isn’t the report given as 60% chance of NO rain, snow, sleet? Why do we spend so much time worrying (I don’t mean clenching of fists or a full blown anxiety attack); I just mean “thinking about” something that we have no direct control over? Like when will the Dow finally exceed 20,000? No matter how many times, over the past several months that I thought about this, did it matter a twit!
There are those things in life, many times entering our personal space by the news media that cause negativity simply in how things are reported. I’m embarrassed that I’m as
mature (in age) as I am and only now am I fully grasping how significantly outside sources can affect the fullness/emptiness of my glass...BUT...I also realize outside sources can affect me ONLY IF I allow them to. I choose to have a cup that overflows.
Psalm 23:5; “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”
Tax Season Is Upon Us
But then you all know that……and why in the world would you want to read even a short paragraph about the dreaded deadline of April 15? Thus, I shall not share thoughts with you about tax season.
I shall, however, ask if you have a junk drawer. We always had one as I was growing up….it was in the kitchen and contained all the necessities of life that were not readily assigned to another location….ie. pencils, crayons, scotch tape, rubber bands, old keys to cars long ago traded-in, a few fishing flies that my dad intended to repair, note paper, etc. In keeping with family tradition, we too, have a kitchen junk drawer at the Hall house and it does include all of the above mentioned items plus OH SOOO much MORE! Our junk drawer is like REALLY full most of the year. I am proud to report, however, that it did get cleaned last weekend when I was gathering documents in prep for tax preparation. Don’t even ask why contribution receipts, interest statements and W-2’s are in the junk drawer, as I would have no answer except to say the drawer is immediately beneath where all incoming mail is opened. I consider it an energy savings not to have to carry documents up to the second floor desk drawer; it‘s just so easy to file in the infamous junk drawer.
But oh what a mess when one really starts to delve into the details. As I filled the trash with expired coupons, old chapstick tubes, receipts that need not be kept, medical papers from all my appointments (this alone filled half the trash can), uncompleted surveys, newsletters/brochures I intended to read someday, etc, I was led to think about how our lives can be so easily filled with junk. Wouldn’t it be beyond awesome if we could just take a few minutes and throw away all the junk that fills our hearts and spirits? If we could clear all the clutter that keeps us from being the best mate, parent, employee, friend, citizen we could possibly be? If we could trash all the hard feelings, hurt, anger, fear that keep our internal junk drawers full?
Well…we can! Our junk drawers can be totally cleaned! It is beyond awesome! It is called confession and grace.
I John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
In Just 12 Minutes
If I don’t encounter more than 4 red lights from my house to the office, I can be at my desk in 12 minutes.
Last week, I received some disconcerting news about my recent blood work so I found
myself feeling somewhat “down” which translated into me just not feeling as grateful as I should about life.
And then I was given a wake-up call during my 12 minute commute.
First, I noticed yellow tulips and white crocus were blooming at a neighbor’s house…beautiful! Next I pulled up to the 4-way stop at University Drive intersection and the man to my right waved me to proceed. How kind! I then noticed 2 signs posted about
companies that were hiring...encouraging for our local economy! I passed Dave Claborn in his van, waved, and thought pretty cool to live in a community where we have friends to smile at on our way to work. At this point, I was about 6 minutes into my drive and my eyes were drawn to several budding bushes indicating life returning...plus 5 Dogwood trees blooming announcing Spring…way cool! Because of some rain this week, I noticed puddles and found myself feeling grateful for rain drops that provide the nourishment needed for our plants and crops and for our personal drinking and bathing, as well. So, exactly what was there to feel “down” about? This was the best 12 minutes of my day.
Proverbs 15:13 “A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.”
Do you ever find it challenging to focus?
Swish….a text just came in….I MUST stop what I’m doing and check it out. A rather boring meeting is happening, think I will just (discreetly) catch up on my emails. Working on a long proposal, keep being distracted thinking about the kids sports schedules and how to get everyone where they need to be. The boss, oh yea, guess that’s me, keeps dumping more and more work on staff; we are all dreaming of getting away for vacation. Man, it can be hard to focus sometimes.
The cancer has returned…..(I initially typed My cancer and then realized I don’t want to take ANY ownership of this ugly ailment.) PET scan indicated two new spots and some previous locations again are affected. This was not my plan.
Faced with the need to decide whether to try another type of chemo (that has some challenging side effects) or to stop all treatment and spend my remaining time with a bit more quality of life, I found it incredibly difficult to focus. After a week of tests, doctor appointments and tears that couldn’t be controlled, I sat down in my recliner and picked up a calendar that someone gave me. The calendar is one that has “thoughts” on for each day of the year. I had not picked it up for some time. The date open was February 27 and here is what it said:
“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME! Waves of adversity are washing over your, and you feel tempted to give up. As your circumstances consume more and more of your attention, you are losing sight of Me. Yet I am with you always, holding you by your right hand. I am fully aware of your situation, and I will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear.
Your gravest danger is worrying about tomorrow. If you try to carry tomorrow’s burdens today, you will stagger under the load and eventually fall flat. You must discipline yourself to live within the boundaries of today. It is in the present moment that I walk close to you, helping you carry your burdens. Keep your focus on My Presence in the present.”
Psalm 73:23-24 “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.
One and three quarter inches long
I’m amazed that I can have this ugly disease creating more cancel cells and spreading but have no pain.
For this, I am most grateful…..especially because my right thumb, which is only 1 ¾ inch long is unbelievably painful!
It is stiff, swollen, and unbendable. It hurts like heck when I write; my cursive looks like I’ve been to med school. I can’t open bottles or jars; I can’t wring out a washcloth; I can’t take the cap off the toothpaste! So I’ve been thinking about how something so very small can cause such incredible discomfort.
Yet, isn’t that the case with life? A few very short words can ruin a relationship or they can express love that lasts forever. A small gesture can be so welcoming or it can offend. The small amount of time we might spend with family or friends can either create positive memories that last a lifetime…..or that same small amount of time could create drama that scars a relationship forever. I guess size doesn’t matter……my aching thumb, though it be less than 2 inches, reminds me it is not how big or small anything might be….it is how we chose to react to even the smallest of life’s challenges.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants; it actually becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32
I’m not sure why but numbers, and the affect they have on our lives, have been on my mind a lot lately. Yes, numbers like 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
Such a few numbers……. that when joined together comprise so many big and important numbers.
Like do you get stressed about the numbers on the scale? The numbers when the blood pressure cuff is on? The numbers on your blood work results? Perhaps you are excited about the numbers of the climbing stock market but maybe not so pleased about the numbers on your company’s bottom line profitability. How about the number that reflects how much is remaining on your student loan, your mortgage, your credit card statement? Are you frustrated when the numbers on that quote you worked so hard on for new business came in just above your competitors’ numbers? Though emotions and feelings control so much of our very being, I’m just amazed how digits (ie numbers) take control over our sense of well-being…….that is, of course, if we chose to allow them to take control.
Numbers 6:24-26; “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
I got a tattoo
Don’t think I didn’t see those eyes roll and yes, I heard a couple of gasps!
It’s a dove, very petite, a pretty blue (which is the color for colon cancer); it’s placed on my wrist where I can enjoy looking at it.
Obviously, to get a tattoo was on my “new and revised” bucket list and no, riding a Harley is not on that list (yet). The story is too long to take up space herein, but suffice it to say that the weeks leading up to the actual “event” were filled with God winks. Should you want to hear the whole story, I can talk much faster than I can type so just call and I will happily bend your ear. There were 7 of us who went at the same time; included were family and one friend. I have not enjoyed so much laughter for months.
The dove represents love and grace and promise and hopefulness and so much more throughout history. Did you know that doves produce their own milk to feed their young? It’s unusual in nature for birds to produce their milk…..so doves also represent nurturing. May I take this opportunity to thank many of you who have nurtured me over the past 19 months. I’m beyond grateful for every prayer, every kind word, cards sent, emails shared, hugs, hugs and more hugs.
Oh, and no…..it really didn’t hurt ….honest, it didn’t.
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him. Matthew 3:16
I can be a princess……not a trait of which I am proud.
While getting ready for work this morn, some really big thunder bumpers rattled my bathroom windows…..the angels were bowling and clearly making a few good strikes! I peeked outside to see if raindrops were falling; I was pleased to note, they were not.
Because you see…… sometimes I can be a princess.
Believe it or not, I don’t ever carry an umbrella as it really doesn’t bother me to get my hair (what little of it there is) wet. However being a princess, I don’t like to get my feet wet. I don’t like the grease and grime from the streets to flow between my toes, don’t like my legs to get splashed and I really don’t like the anxiety I feel about having an inch of water on the bottom of my pants or the smell of soggy leather under my nose all day.
By the time I arrived at the office, the rain drops were falling……fast and furious. I jumped from my car and hastily dodged puddles and the pond created by the ginormous downspout at our front door. My anxiety increased with every splish-splashy step. And then……I was sooo very disappointed in myself and my attitude.
Really, Pam, you aren’t feeling put-out by damp toes when those in Texas are facing the MOST incredibly difficult of days followed by weeks and months of life changing challenges. My heart ached with my selfishness; I prayed for forgiveness and I then prayed for every life touched by Harvey. I placed rain drops into proper perspective.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” Proverbs 4:23
They don’t HEAR me
For those of us who enjoy Ohio State football, I think it is safe to safe we’ve experienced some ups and downs in the early games thus far this year. It’s so much fun to gather for football with friends and food but it’s so much more fun when we win!
Historically, at our house, Chuck tends to be quite verbal during the OSU games… and I mean quite verbose/verbal/dramatic/loud/emphatic. This year, for some reason, he has been silent… I mean like totally silent. Though this has allowed me to be in the same room as he to watch the game, I became very puzzled by this change in behavior… so, of course, I had to ask. “Why aren’t you yelling at the TV screen anymore?” His response: “Because they can’t HEAR me.”
Why it has taken him all these years to figure that out, I have no clue… but that made me begin to think about all the times in life we has humans don’t really HEAR each other. How often do we wish our teenagers really HEARD what we said? How many times do we shake our heads when we thought we so clearly outlined our company vision/strategy only to realize our employees didn’t HEAR what we articulated? Spouses and friends often are not on the same page simply because we don’t really HEAR what each other shares. Reality is those coaches and players on the field can’t HEAR Chucks words of wisdom and advice voiced from our family room. I guess the trick is not to create a situation in which there is a barrier such that others can’t HEAR us.
Luke 11:28; But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who HEAR the word of God and keep it!”
Is it Friday yet ????
Often on the news, I’ve noticed various mention of accelerating the days of our lives… like yearning for a weekend… or anxious for Friday to arrive. Early in the week, announcers will ask “Is it Friday yet?” On Wednesdays, reference is made to “hump day,” an obvious claim that the week is half over. I recently heard a new reference (to wishing time would fly) when a broadcaster welcomed the listeners on Thursday morning with “Happy Friday Eve!”
This made me think about why we as humans want to advance time? What is so dang special about a Friday that we are anxious to pass by all the blessings, all the memories that could be made, all the love we could share, on the days we want to hurry past? Why would we want to hurry time along? I’m sure I’m ultra-sensitive to this given my new appreciation for every minute I’m allowed to remain with you all, so I just wanted to encourage you to treasure every second, every minute, every day. Friday will come when it’s time for Friday.
Habakkuk 2:3; “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!”
Did you believe in Santa Claus?
Or the Easter Bunny… or even the Tooth Fairy?
I certainly did. Fond memories of sitting on the jolly old elf’s lap, hunting eggs planted in the most unusual places by that crafty bunny and awaking to find 50 cents buried under my pillow, still remain in my memory banks.
I’ve been thinking about how easy it was to believe when tangible items were left to touch and treasure. Even when we “came of age” and learned the truth about Santa, the Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, our worlds were not shattered. The reality was tangible gifts continued to arrive at Christmas and Easter and I guess by then, our baby teeth were probably all out.
So I’ve been thinking about how it is sometimes a bit more difficult to wrap our brains around believing in a God who can’t be touched physically and whose gifts are given in both tangible and quite often, intangible ways.
December 2nd marks the two year anniversary for my “new normal” world. Many times I have wondered if I would be here with you another month, let alone another year. Yet, because of believing… REALLY BELIEVING… I have found that infamous peace that passes all our human understanding. This peace is a gift. Not a gift like we will be giving and getting and unwrapping this month, but rather a gift that is intangible. A gift that can’t be touched by our hands but can be felt by our hearts and souls.
John 20:29; Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
Totally Random/Simple Thoughts
Be careful what you wish for: For years I longed to be thin enough to fit into my high school cheerleading sweater; came across it recently and now it’s too big ):
Remember the simple things: This was my fav prayer when Trevor was a little person. “Oh, the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed.”
My new favorite books: The God Winks series by Squire Rushnell. If you haven’t read them…..please consider.
Most everyone is talking about the ever increasing divisiveness and polarization taking place in our country. Should we be surprised? Our basic core…the family….often chooses to be at odds. Siblings don’t speak to each other, cousins won’t attend the same Christmas dinner, parents and their offspring are alienated, grandparents are forgotten. If we can’t get along within our own blood lines, how can we expect to act differently from a global perspective?
I made up a new prayer that my OCD brain continues to repeat over and over, so just want to share with you: “To know and to grow……to do and to be…..ALL that YOU would ask of me.” Perhaps that is a totally random/simple thought to begin 2018.
Could have…..should have…..would have…..
I’ve been thinking a lot about life’s “Could haves…..should haves….and would haves”.
You see when one knows their passing is sooner rather than later, I’ve found the mind is bombarded with thoughts of “Gosh darn, I could have said, done, written, acted, prayed, asked, advised….but I didn’t”. Or “Geez I really, really should have asked for forgiveness, not been so selfish and egotistical, been kinder, more patient, more attentive, more sincere. And then there are those haunting thoughts of missed opportunities, sinful acts, uneducated opinions, all those things I so wish I would have done differently. But…..for all of us……the past has passed.
Every new day we are granted here on earth with our co-workers, friends and family, we have the opportunity to make life all that it can possibly be so our Could haves, Should haves and Would haves are not regrets that lay heavily on our hearts. It really is so basic, so simple……all we really could, should, would have to do is treat others as we would hope to be treated.
“In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you.
For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Believing in Healing
I’m on a new path of learning about believing in healing… I’m talking about REALLY believing… not just asking to be healed but rather declaring a belief in BEING healed. I’m not knowledgeable enough yet to share what I’ve learned because I have so much more to absorb. However, when I get there, I will boldly ask for your thoughts/opinions because it appears I have a very BIG decision to make in the next few weeks about future options I may have with respect to treatment. In the meantime, I would gratefully appreciate any advice/guidance that you may have come across in your life’s journey regarding preparing oneself for healing and having the incredible fortitude to REALLY believe one is healed.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
But it was supposed to be…
When we awoke to snow covered trees as beautiful as any Currier and Ives scene on March 21, I overheard many saying: “But it is supposed to be Spring!” And that caused me to ponder how often in life things are simply not what we thought they were supposed to be.
They were to live happily ever after; there was not supposed to be the pain of a divorce. He was planning to retire so they could travel; there was not supposed to be a heart attack. Their love brought a baby into this world; but the child was not supposed to be deformed. The parents and grandparents were as proud as peacocks about their young daughter/granddaughter being accepted into an honors program; she was not supposed to overdose. That new career opportunity meant a major relocation and a huge salary increase for the family; the company was not supposed to go bankrupt after just six months.
Yes, it was supposed to be Spring but snow came. Life isn’t always what it is supposed to be. BUT life is an incredibly amazing gift even when things happen that aren’t supposed to.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
I have a very special friend who recently celebrated one of those BIG birthdays… you know the kind that is dictated by the passing of yet another decade. I decided it only appropriate to honor her in a special way so I created a gift-a-day for several days in advance of her birthdate and delivered a delightfully wrapped present to her each morning. It was great fun for both of us; I’m not sure who enjoyed the anticipation more. With each gift I wrote a brief sentiment of how much she meant to me or a snarky quip about how the gift would add joy to her life via use of the enclosed cream designed to eliminate age spots and wrinkles!
As I reflected about how much fun I had giving these gifts, I was reminded of the old adage about it being better to give than to receive. And then something struck me… what if my friend never chose to open my gifts? What if she laid them on her kitchen counter and just admired the nice wrapping, but never actually chose to unlock the surprises I so painstakingly chose just for her? I would certainly be most sad; unspeakably so. And she, I would say, would lose out on joy and quality of life and love and appreciation and… then, I thought to myself, are we not often negligent of unwrapping the greatest gift given to man?? The gift of God’s grace… a gift given with love and just waiting for us to unwrap.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Last week while in bed on chemo, flat on my back, staring at the ceiling… I was reminded of that old lullaby: The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout; down came the rain and washed the spider out. Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.
As you can only imagine, what reminded me of this verse was the tiny spider that was VERY busy on the ceiling above my bed. Why, I pondered, in a room that is 14’ by 14’ did he chose to spend his time and energy DIRECTLY over my head? Initially I wasn’t concerned, but then he began to spin a web and lower himself closer to my space. THAT was totally unacceptable. I watched him off and on for over an hour. He worked feverishly doing something… I don’t know what… had he a Fitbit on, he would certainly have accomplished ten thousand steps!
How many times do we go through life feverishly doing “things”, going in “circles”, being VERY busy… just like that itsy-bitsy spider… but not really accomplishing much of anything?
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
My Bucket List
Tackling the deteriorated housing stock in our community has long been on my Bucket List. I feel like we are very close to finding one solution to this challenge. My thought... to share with you this month… is a request to read the above article, please… and call me with any questions. Hope you can join us on July 17!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
It takes about 12 minutes for me to get to work (for those of you reading this who may fight the traffic every day for an hour because you don’t live in Marion… eat your hearts out! AND someday allow me to “sell” you on all the reasons we would LOVE to have you relocate to our fine County). Back to my commute… it is rather short, yet I find myself often anxious to coordinate something with my staff or sometimes reminding Chuck of his at home To-Do list. Thus I get in the car and say: Dial 740.382.2181 or sometimes: Call Chuck Hall mobile. It would take much more space than I am allotted to describe what often happens when I do the Chuck Hall thing so to make my point, let’s go with calling the office.
Here is what typically happens…
Pam: Dial 7403822181; Phantom voice from my dashboard: Dialing 97403822181. Where did that 9 prefix come from? Clearing my voice and annunciating more distinctly, I repeat the office number. Response: Dialing 997403822181. No way, this time I try to speak in a more manly voice and repeat the number. Phantom repeats what apparently she heard with an entire string of totally different numbers! By now, my voice has escalated in volume by several decibels; clearly the problem must be she forgot her hearing aid today! Alas, upon trying yet once again, the string of numbers had no resemblance to 740.382.2181. Frustrated that I was almost at work and unable to coordinate with Chelsea during that 12 minute commute, I gave up and as you might guess, my blood pressure was now off the charts.
How often is our communication with our employees, family members or friends simply not heard as we thought we SO clearly expressed?
The good news is that on my cancer journey I have become keenly aware that my God NEVER misses EXACTLY what I say to Him. Know the same to be true for you. He always hears our requests, concerns and praise. He HEARS and UNDERSTANDS exactly what we say… unlike modern technology, he never fails us.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33.3
I’m not in to cartoons. Not the TV versions, not movies, not comic books or even the good old newspaper. I’m not sure why, but I think there are two reasons. The first being (and I’m not kidding about this) I often don’t “get” them! Nothing I’m proud to admit….but then, I wasn’t proud to admit to you that I don’t make my bed either. I often am oblivious to the subtle humor. The second reason is I just really like “real life” stories. Now I understand that cartoons often have real life messages that are of great value but I just like seeing people, or reading about people, in real life not cartoon characters. I’m sure many of you are shaking your head and thinking, “poor girl she has missed so much laughter and joy” by not appreciating cartoons. You are probably correct.
BUT just today, thanks to Chamber member Tarina Rose, I have a new appreciation for cartoons….well, at least for Snoopy. This cartoon spoke to me with such magnitude, I simply can’t describe. So Charlie Brown and Snoopy are sitting on a dock overlooking a body of water. Charlie says: “One day, we will die Snoopy”. Snoopy replies: “Yes, but every other day we will live”.
What a powerful message! Hit me between the eyes as the saying goes. We have SO much to live for!
“Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might, because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, the place were you will eventually go.” Ecclesiastes 9:10
Drama is Contagious
I’ve been so struck recently by how much drama is permeating our lives. It’s everywhere, every day, affecting everyone. I don’t mean drama as a theatrical performance or play; I mean drama as an event that involves intense conflict of forces. Such influential forces that cause relationships to be forever changed; marriages to be forever damaged; business associations to be broken beyond repair.
Similar to a pervasive pandemic like cholera, bubonic plague or smallpox, drama attacks our very being…oh but wait…there is actually a BIG difference. Horrible epidemics cause physical damage, pain, even death to our human body but drama is created by us. We allow it to permeate our very being. We tend to get sucked in to drama that surrounds our family, friends, peers and business associates.
When I allow drama to enter my life I find myself making excuses for why I have done so. Recently it has become very apparent to me…there are no excuses. I allow it to happen; I pay the consequences. In today’s world we are losing the ability to come to consensus, listen to each other’s views or accept that people can disagree on issues yet still remain civil to each other.
The real trick then is for us to make a conscience decision to avoid drama like the plague that it truly is. A plague that can literally destroy ones very spirit.
“However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5: 15-16
I’ve been thinking about how often we are caught up in anticipation.
Have you purchased a lottery ticket recently? Did you wait with anticipation for the eve of the drawing? Have you cast an early ballot for the upcoming elections? Do you ponder and anticipate whether your candidates will win? November means Thanksgiving. Are you anxiously awaiting/anticipating a big turkey dinner with family and friends? The stock market has been on a bit of a roller coaster. Do you await with anticipation for your month-end IRA report? Is it about time for grade cards to come home? As a parent, do you feel that anticipation? It’s time again for medical scans/tests. Are you anticipating, perhaps with fear, the results?
Carly Simon is known for the song “Anticipation” remember it went like this……”We can never know about the days to come, But we think about them anyway. And I wonder if I’m really with you now or just chasin’ after some finer day. Anticipation, anticipation is makin’ me late, is keepin’ me waitin’.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phillippians 4:6
World Toilet Day
Well, it appears there is a designated day for most everything now-a-days.
There is National Cheese Lover Day, National Puzzle Day, National Teddy Bear Day, Collect Rocks Day and of course, National Chamber of Commerce Day. BUT I was most surprised to read a recent article about “World Toilet Day”. I couldn’t resist reading after seeing the headline and now I’m so glad I did because it was such an incredible reminder of the simplest of things that we take for granted.
I learned that 1 in 5 primary schools and 1 in 8 secondary schools globally do not have any toilets. The article indicated that 93% of households in Ethiopia lack a decent toilet. Further an estimated 344 million children in sub-Saharan Africa lack a toilet at home leaving them vulnerable to infections. The U.N. has designated “World Toilet Day” in hopes of elevating the awareness of the fact that an estimated 4.5 billion people across the world lack access to proper sanitation.
My heart ached after reading this article; yet my heart swelled with gratefulness. How can we not be thankful for that which we so take for granted…something that many of our homes have two or three of…..a simple toilet. For me, this article was a wake-up call…A call to awake every day with a grateful heart, full of praise and thanksgiving for absolutely everything…even our toilets.
Colossians 2:7; “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
I would imagine many of us have spent time, in the last several days, cleaning out our frig and kitchen cupboards of leftovers. The pecans on the exterior of the half-eaten cheese balls are soggy; crackers have gotten a tad bit stale; the ham has been used for the main course, then for ham and bean soup and lastly for ham salad; grandma’s cookies are not nearly as moist as originally enjoyed and the icing has turned to cement.
As I cleaned out our food leftovers, I reflected upon clearing out my life’s leftovers. I pondered about some leftover challenges I have not faced like challenges at work that I have avoided or ignored. Leftovers in my relationships that should command my attention. Leftovers of projects started but not completed. Leftovers of guilt that I haven’t allowed grace to replace.
If this resonates with you, join me in beginning 2019 by cleaning out our leftovers that are truly of no value and should not take up space in our refrigerators, our cupboards, our workplaces, our hearts, our very souls.
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” John 6:27